The Evils Of Child Labour

 

I heard the screams again when I opened the main door to let my maid in. I am sure she heard it too. She looked at me with questioning eyes. Our eyes met for a moment, but I looked away. I didn’t have the answers. Slowly I closed the door.

” What is the matter? didi” asked my maid.

” I don’t know Savita. Strange people. I have never seen anybody coming to their house ever. And besides we can’t interfere in anyone’s personal matters .”  I was not  convinced by my own reasoning, but I had no other option.

” Deva, I daily hear the girl crying so loud as if someone is hitting her hard. What do they do with the girl? She is a poor 9-year-old.”

I chose not to hear. Somewhere within I wanted to find out the reason of screams.Every time I mustered some courage to walk towards that door, my feet were glued to the ground & I turned back.

Our ”New Neighbour ” moved in a couple of weeks ago. Working husband & wife in mid-fifties & two teenage kids. A young girl was also  in the family who didn’t look like the family member. They hardly exchanged any pleasantries with anyone. In case we were in the same lift, the lady would just nod her head & look away. Her husband sometimes had little talks with my kids, but very rarely.

The little young { I don’t even know her name yet} was always working. Bringing grocery, sweeping the floor, serving food. She smiled every time I looked at her but never spoke a word. When the couple & children left for the day, she used to open the door slightly & used to see my kids playing. She used to hide behind the door. Once I asked her to come & play with my 4-year-old daughter, she hurriedly closed the door. I assumed she was either too shy or was instructed not to go out.

On Diwali, we were decorating our door with flowers & “rangoli” in the morning when I saw the lady & little girl coming out with a plate in her hand. Lady drew a figure on the floor, gave some instruction to her & went inside. The girl brought a wooden stool & tried to fix the flower garland on the main door. She was little short to reach the top of the door so she stood on her toes. Her long skirt lifted a bit exposing a fresh burn wound.

” What happened to your leg ”

She looked at me & was about to say something, suddenly the lady appeared from nowhere

” She burnt her leg in the kitchen. Hot tea you see.She is very naughty. ”

” Oh, but she must apply some ointment. Otherwise, it will get infected .”

” She doesn’t listen to me. I have told her thousand times. Little brat she is ” She laughed animatedly

I was thinking “how come the wound was on precise one spot. Had it been a case of hot tea spill, it should have burnt both her legs ”

“Am I being too suspicious. Maybe the lady was right ” I brushed off the thought.

In the evening, I took customary sweet & snack plate to their house. As I was about to hit the bell I heard a loud cry.

” How dare you touch the sweets before aarti ” Woman’s voice.

“No, madam I didn’t ”

“Then who, the ghost took it. You are turning into a thief & a liar. Today it is sweets, tomorrow you would steal money & jewellery ”

” I swear, I didn’t take any sweets. Please believe me ”

” She won’t admit it. I think she hasn’t learnt a lesson from yesterday’s punishment. She needs another dose of it .” Male voice

” Please, please don’t punish me. I swear on my mother I never stole anything. Please, madam, I will do all work. Please don’t burn me .”  The girl cried out loud.

” NO. You are becoming a headache for me. I didn’t bring you here to trouble me. Catch hold of her hands I will bring the hot iron.”

The little girl screeched. I was dumbfounded. My mind froze for the moment. “What should I do ”. I wanted to break open the door & take away the distressed girl, but I couldn’t gather courage, “what would I say? How am I going to save the girl? what if they misbehave with me? “  Thousands of thoughts were fleeting in my mind, ” should I ?? how?? ”

A loud scream again ” Please don’t madam, uncle please don’t ”

” NO, I can’t take it. I have to go inside. It must be stopped.NOW”  I thought. I put the plate down on the floor, Took a deep breath  ” I can do it ” 5-4-3-2-1 and I rang the bell. No, answer. I kept hitting it. Finally, a boy opened the door. I pushed him away & entered the room.

“where is the girl”

” what girl .”  The lady asked

” listen, I have heard everything. I want to see the girl right now.”

” It is our family matter. Go away,” the lady shouted

” Be hell with your family &  its matters. Enough is enough. I am taking away the girl. If anyone tries to stop me. I am going to call the police. ”

I looked for her in every room & found her locked up in one of the bathrooms. She was petrified. I took her in my arms & came out of the house. She was living in a hell & my interference although a little late rescued her. I think it was her first Happy Diwali ” in the true sense.

This is a fictional story inspired by a true incidence. The sole purpose of this post is to draw attention towards the evils of child labour in our society. Look around you will see a number of such cases. A ‘chotu’ working in a tea stall, little ‘rani’ handling her ‘madam’s’ kid who is hardly older than her or a ‘Raju’ putting in endless hours of hard work when he is supposed to be attending school. Does any of this sound similar? Have you seen any such cases around you ? I bet all of us have …

Can you hear her cries? What do u do when you see a case of child labour? Do you report it, Intervene or simply watch? .Please don’t look away. Interfere, Speak, Act. Your little courage can save someone’s life. Be responsible !!!!

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Garima,

    Congrats for the courage you have shown towards a noble cause. It rarely happens and I am glad that you did it. Actually, all of us have turned so selfish that we don’t consider anything beyond the things that are directly beneficial to us. Really, a courageous move and if taken by everyone in the same way can surely make this world a better place to live. Thanks for sharing the heart touching story.

    • thx Ashutosh . We are so engrossed in our own tiny little world that whatever is happening around doesn’t bother us any more . Its sad but true .

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